Advices & Queries: June 9, 2019
These advices are drawn from Quaker Faith & Practice: The book of Christian discipline of the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain (Warwick, England: 1995).
The Meaning of Membership
“`The Kingdom of Heaven did gather us and catch us all, as in a net’” (Francis Howgill, 1663).
“When early Friends affirmed the priesthood of all believers it was seen as an abolition of the clergy; in fact it is an abolition of the laity. All members are part of the clergy and have the clergy’s responsibility for the maintenance of the meeting as a community. This means helping to contribute, in whatever ways are most suitable, to the maintenance of an atmosphere in which spiritual growth and exploration are possible for all. It means contributing to the meeting by giving time and energy to events and necessary tasks, and also being willing to serve on various regional or yearly meeting committees and other groups. There is a special responsibility to attend meetings for church affairs, for it is here that the meeting enacts its faith. Membership also entrails a financial commitment appropriate to a member’s means, for without money neither the local meeting nor the wider structure can function.
Membership does not require great moral or spiritual achievement, but it does require a sincerity of purpose and a commitment to Quaker values and practices. Membership is a spiritual discipline, a commitment to the well-being of one’s spiritual home and not simply appearance on a membership roll. The process of application with its personal consideration, writing the letter to the monthly meeting, preparing to be visited and being visited are all part of the spiritual journey; part of the seeking that is so integral to our religious heritage. The membership application process is not only about seeking but also about finding.
The process is an important part of the life of the monthly meeting, too; accepting a new member means not only welcoming the `hidden seed of God’ but also affirming what it is as a community that we value and cherish. Quakers once called themselves `Friends in the Truth’ and it is the finding of this truth that we affirm when we accept others who value it into membership” (Quaker Faith and Practice, 11.01).
- Does the opening advice about being gathered together in a net speak to your experience of Meeting?
- Do you find any spiritual resonance with being among Quakers who are “Friends in the Truth” as the second advice suggests?
- Whether you are an attender or member, do you have reflections about membership?
Quakerspeak videos addressing these queries: